Why is our national team suddenly so young? It seems to be a recurring question in the Soviet press in the late 1960s, and there were several explanations.
In an article from 1967, one writer suggested that it’s because the Soviet Union was trying to keep pace with the likes of Věra Čáslavská, who made her international debut at the age of 16 at the 1958 World Championships in Moscow.
The articles from 1968 told a different story.
In the first article below, the explanation will sound more familiar to today’s gym nerds. It has to do with the presumed innocence and naïveté of female gymnasts before they reach adulthood.
In the second article, Larisa Latynina offers a slightly different rendition of the rise of the teenage gymnast.
And finally, we’ll take a look at an Estonian article about Larisa Petrik and what she reportedly did with her pigtails.